Meet Misha Donskov
Meet Misha Donskov
Canada’s assistant coach has a Russian name
Misha, what are your duties with Team Canada?
Officially, my position is called management and hockey operations. Now I do video analytics. At these Worlds, I’m an assistant coach, and I'm responsible both for analyzing our team and studying our opponents.
What’s your original background as a player and coach?
I was an assistant coach with the Ottawa 67's and London Knights in the Ontario Hockey League. Also, I worked at my family’s hockey school in Columbus, Ohio. My father Paul has headed it up for 17 years. In addition to the Canadian part of my career, I played hockey in Europe for two years. One year in Sweden, one year in Norway. I had an incredible and very rich experience there. To this very day, I communicate with friends I met there in the early 2000s. Now, most of the time I live and work in Canada.
How did you become a video coach?
When I was working as a coach in the OHL, I was invited to work as a video coach for Hockey Canada. Then, after a year, I was offered a permanent job. It was my dream to be there, to have that extra international experience.
Where are you located during the games?
I watch games from the commentary positions. I study videos, analyze them, and provide information to the coaching staff.
As a video coach, you must have a good understanding of the differences between North American and European hockey.
Indeed, we are talking about different styles of hockey. After all, the game changes on the big rink. We always want to play fast and support one another well at maximum speed. These principles are unchanging for Canada. But how do you implement that on a different-sized rink? This is an important question, and it’s something I work on.
You know all the teams at these Worlds very well. What do you foresee for the quarter-final matchups?
Right now, I’m focused on our game. We will have a difficult match against a strong Swedish team. I will not tell you all the details and secrets. I can say that at this World Championship in Russia, everyone can beat everyone else on any given day. And that isn’t just empty words.
What do you think about the tournament in general?
This is my first time in St. Petersburg and in Russia. We are in a very beautiful city where they’ve done everything possible for the World Championship. Everybody is friendly to us. We’re playing at a wonderful arena, and we’re enjoying it. Moreover, this is not only my personal opinion – all the coaches and players of Team Canada think so. We had great opponents in the group, and in every game we had a lot to learn. The closing loss to Finland was another stage in our learning process. The playoffs will be completely different hockey.
Misha Donskov is a Russian name, right?
Yes, exactly! My dad was born in southern Russia, in Astrakhan. He came to Canada in 1952 as an immigrant and settled in Toronto. So, there is a lot of Russian blood in me. In addition, I still have relatives in Russia.
Which words do you know in Russian?
Spasibo for your interest in me. Nothing more, alas. But I do know a few other things. I know that Misha means “little bear” in Russian. [laughs] In addition, we had a Laika dog when I was a kid. I’ve sent my father a photo with the mascot of the Worlds in Russia. I am happy that during this hockey mission, I’m getting to visit my ancestral Motherland.
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